In the March/April 2022 issue, Camree May, the facilities coordinator at San Francisco State University (SFSU), shares advice on sustainability efforts.
Describe two of your sustainability efforts.
CM: We are really proud of our LEED platinum certification for the Mashouf Wellness Center (MWC), which is our main facility for our programs and services. At the time the MWC was built, we were one of three campus recreation facilities in the country with LEED platinum certification. We are also the first LEED platinum facility on SFSU’s campus.
Secondly, I think we do staff education well. We try to regularly train our staff on sustainable building features, green practices, proper waste disposal and why it all matters. We aim to expand this to the general student population at SFSU.
Can you describe the Student Manager of Sustainability position?
CM: This position is still fairly new to our department and was hired on in 2019. We had the opportunity to implement a few initiatives, conduct staff trainings and plan a couple events right before the pandemic started. During the pandemic, we offered virtual “Sustainability and Why It Matters” workshops.
In summary, the Student Manager of Sustainability is responsible for sustainability education, events, programming and campus collaboration. They currently conduct workshops with staff and eventually will expand that to the general student population. They are responsible for sustainability event programming — e.g. planning Earth Week celebrations — and collaborating with campus student groups. This position works closely with myself on green facility improvements and upgrades.
What benefits have you seen from the position?
CM: The main benefits I’ve seen are that students are interested in learning more about sustainability and we are leaving slightly less of an environmental imprint than we would if we did not have the position.
We conducted a student waste-disposal behavior survey and students had to guess where each piece of trash went. This has led to greater effectiveness with waste disposal. Additionally, students had fun with the survey and they really appreciated knowing more about where to throw things away.
I’ve also seen more collaboration across campus — i.e. campus recreation and associated students.
What lessons have you learned in sustainability over the years?
CM: Implementing sustainability efforts in an organization can be extremely challenging because it requires behavior change. Having a solid understanding of change management is crucial when trying to green your organization or your business.
Being able to utilize data to show financial savings when implementing change creates a co-beneficial relationship for both the planet and the individual. Being able to explain that connection, even for those who are not up for change, can be very convincing.
Lastly, having “fun” statistics can make sustainability a little more exciting and is also important for benchmarking. For example, looking at how many reams of paper we use each year and calculate how many trees that would be. Then trying to reduce the amount of “trees” that we use as a team. Reducing impact as a team can create a way to strive for a specific goal together. Sustainability is truly a team effort.